Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
June 16, 2008 12:05 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
So much for all my hypothesizing this morning. The Mariners just fired GM Bill Bavasi. Lee Pelakoudis takes over as interim GM. A news conference scheduled for 2 p.m. at Safeco Field. Guess it really was just a matter of getting the draft done with and moving on from there.
"Change is in order,'' CEO Howard Lincoln said in a written statement. "We have determined new leadership is needed in the GM position. With a new leader will come a new plan and a new approach. A search will begin immediately for a permanent GM, and Lee will be a candidate for the position.''
Now, what does this mean for the future? I'd say we're more likely to see an overall house-cleaning of this team over the next few months than simply a "two or three bats" addition. Bavasi was the one who brought in pitcher Erik Bedard with an eye towards contending in 2008 or 2009. Had the team's ownership and management ranks believed that contending in 2009 was possible, it might have held on to Bavasi one more year. The only other way there is no housecleaning is if someone who specializes in putting a team over the top, like a Pat Gillick, were to come on instead. Remember, Gillick is now in what could be his final season with the Philadelphia Phillies.
But the more likely scenario is, you bring in a new GM who gets his own 3-to-5-year plan to make things work. After all, Lincoln describes "a new plan and a new approach" that would seem to negate the current plan. Those of you who wanted to blow the whole thing up will likely get their wish.
Five seasons into the Bavasi plan, it's on to the next one.
As for John McLaren, he likely stays in-place for a while longer. No use firing the manager and replacing him with somebody when a new GM is about to come in and likely make more changes. That probably won't happen until after this season is complete. Other assistant GMs will have to fill out their existing duties. You'll want a thorough search for candidates, with all the interviewing and detailing of the job that goes along with that. So, I'd say McLaren gets the rest of this season to show what he can do and make a case for himself. Only way you make a swap now is if you -- as an organization -- assume that a coaching staff cleansing will occur under a new GM who wants his own people in there. Under that scenario, you could replace McLaren with Jim Riggleman for now, assuming both would not be back next year. That's a lot of change in a short period of time. At least, for 2008.
Beyond this season? All bets are off.
By the way, I'd expect to see the team at least begin to shop Erik Bedard around starting right now. You don't have to deal him right away, but I don't see how he possibly fits into any long term plan. A contract extension would appear out of the question. He isn't exactly rushing to get one done. And the team, figuring out it's got a six-inning, 100-pitch "ace'' on its hands probably isn't in a rush to hand him the keys to the vault.